The new reformed Junior Cycle will still include a major State exam at the end of third year but it will now be accompanied by classroom-based assessments. However, the ASTI (Association of Secondary School Teachers of Ireland) have voted against this.
The government is introducing the changes this year and the largest second-level teacher’s union have only enhanced their opposition, telling their members, not to co-operation with the assessment system.
The government wants to put less emphasis on traditional exams and introduce a more broad approach to assessment and learning.
But, delegate for the ASTI, Mark Walsh, has said that teachers do not want to certify their own students.
Susie Hall, another delegate said external assessment was crucial to the integrity and fairness of State exams.
Therese Glennon, a delegate from the union’s northeast branch, said many parents were supportive of teachers’ refusal to engage in assessment of their own students.
“I like being an advocate for my students, not their judge and jury. School certification will do that, there is no doubt about it,” she said.
During the unions annual convention in Cork, delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of this motion which meant members were to refuse to assess their own students.
This move not likely to make any chance of resolution so the ASTI have threatened a series of autumn stikes unless the Department of Education address’s this issue. A series of one-day strikes would close up to 500 schools, forcing 250,000 students to stay a home.
Members of the ASTI rejected the proposed new junior cycle reforms in a ballot carried out in September 2015. However, only 40 per cent of the ASTI’s members voted.
Teachers who are members of the other second-level teachers’ union, the TUI, voted last year to accept a deal on junior cycle reforms by 69 per cent to 31 per cent, in a ballot in which 60 per cent of their members participated.
This division means that only one in three schools will be in a position to the new Junior Cycle reform. And this will all end in most likely a two-tier system where a minority of schools will be partaking in classroom-based assessments. These assessments will be a marking scheme which awards descriptions on achievements rather than grades.